Pluralistic Ignorance and Inconsistency Between Private Attitudes and Public Behaviors
Dale T. Miller Benoît Monin Deborah A. Prentice Princeton University
Psychologists have a longstanding interest in the utility of attitudes for predicting behavior, an interest that has been both frustrated and maintained by the ever accumulating evidence that their utility is mediocre at best. The many findings of attitude-behavior inconsistency have been viewed as discouraging for at least two reasons: First, most claims for the validity of attitudes as a social construct have rested on their ability to predict behavior, and second, practitioners have hoped to be able to use persuasion techniques to modify deleterious behaviors, a strategy that requires not just attitude-behavior consistency but also a causal link between the two. As a consequence, researchers have been motivated to find attitude-behavior consistency wherever it might live. They have found a number of successful approaches, including refining the measurement of attitudes ( Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), refining the measurement of behaviors ( Fishbein & Ajzen, 1974, 1975), changing the definition of consistency ( Campbell, 1963), and identifying individual characteristics and social circumstances that promote consistency ( Fazio & Zanna, 1981; Sherman & Fazio, 1983). These efforts have led to the development of models for predicting behavior from attitudes, many of which are described elsewhere in this volume.